The Leadbeater's possum is in a lot of strife right now. Its survival is severely threatened by bushfire and clearfell logging in its Central Highlands habitat. Last month it was declared critically endangered by the Federal Government.
The species has always had a tumultuous history. The Leadbeater's was discovered in 1867 and named for John Leadbeater, the chief taxidermist at what was then Museum Victoria. However, the possums' riverside habitat in Gippsland was cleared for farming in the early 1900s, after which it disappeared entirely.
By 1961, the Leadbeater's possum hadn't been seen for over 50 years, and was considered almost certainly extinct. And then came along Eric Wilkinson. I spoke to him in March, at the very place where the following events transpired.